Friday, February 24, 2017

2017 3 Tables Chess - February Round 3 Daro Mott, 2065 - Anton Taylor, 1917 Caro-Kann, Short's 2.Ne2 (B12)

2017 3 Tables Chess - February Round 3
Daro Mott, 2065 - Anton Taylor, 1917 
Caro-Kann, Short's 2.Ne2 (B12)

1. e4 c6 2. Ne2 I should explain this move. I have known Daro for many years. He has consistently been at least 100 rating points higher than me but by some miracle I have managed to maintain a win streak versus him. One of those games that I remembered and talked with him about was playing as black against the Fantasy Variation of the Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3). It is my assumption that this is his primary weapon against the Caro-Kann. Sooo ... this move eliminates theory to some degree but culminates in an awkward advance variation ... so it is a sideline with theoretical ideas. That makes it an equal trade-off basically. I could not help but laugh out loud when I saw the move. It's an interesting sideline. 2. ... d5 3. e5 c5 4. d4 Nc6 5. c3 e6 This is a part of the psychological opening game. Black is essentially saying, "Okay, you have a French position with the extra knight move thrown in. Are you really better for it?" The answer by most critical tests in the line is that the move is a unique development but not particularly an improvement. Bf5 is objectively better than this move but black is fine here. 6. a3 Nge7 7. b4 cxd4 8. cxd4 Nf5 9. Bb2 Be7 At a depth of 19 Komodo sees an advantage for black. His pieces that are developed have found useful squares. Even the bishop on e7 has the potential to assist in the f6 pawn break in the future if necessary. Things are looking very good. 10. Nd2 O-O 11. Nf3 Bd7 Komodo recommends b5. This makes a lot of sense as White's only means of counterplay is on that wing. If the pawn become fixed Black's edge and the plan of f6 become dominant. This development discourages White's b5 but it is an illusion. White could prepare to grab the space and make squares on the queenside for his pieces to occupy.12. Ng3 Nh4 I felt that this was a good move. It offers a trade that does help white but it gets rid of his most useful knight to capture it. The knight on g3 has very little future as all of its squares are either controlled or useless for the attack against black's kingside. h5 is the key square for white's attacking operation and it will be occupied by the queen. 13. Nxh4 Bxh4 14. Bd3 f5 15. O-O f4 16. Qh5 g6 17. Bxg6 Qe7!? This is technically a blunder but it's a monstrous calculation to see the mistake. Neither me nor my opponent saw the error and this becomes the winning idea. Objectively I should have taken the draw by taking the bishop. The winning line for white is this: 18. Bd3 fxg3 19. hxg3 Bg5 20. f4 Be8 21. Qxg5+ Qxg5 22. fxg5 and white wins based on his control of the f6 square that white cannot equal. 18. Ne2? This loses. The rest of the game is interesting but not particularly relevant for me to study in-depth.  18. ... hxg6 19. Qxg6+ Qg7 20. Qh5 f3 21. Ng3 Qg5 22. Rac1 Qxh5 23. Nxh5 Be8 24. Ng3 Bg5 25. Rc5 Bg6 26. Rd1 Rac8 27. Rc3 fxg2 28. Kxg2 Ne7 29. Rc5 b6 30. Rc3 Rxc3 31. Bxc3 Rc8 32. Bd2 Bxd2 33. Rxd2 Rc6 34. Ra2 Nf5 35. Ne2 Rc4 36. Rd2 Bh5 37. Ng3 Bg4 38. Nxf5 Bxf5 39. Kg3 Rc3+ 40. Kf4 Rxa3 41. f3 Rd3 42. Ra2 Rxd4+ 43. Kg5 Rxb4 44. Rxa7 Rb2 45. Ra8+ Kf7 46. Ra7+ Ke8 47. h4 Rg2+ 48. Kf4 Rh2 49. Kg5 d4 50. Rb7 d3 51. Rxb6 d2 52. Rd6 Bc2 53. Rxe6+ Kd7 54. Rd6+ Ke7 55. h5 d1=Q 56. Rxd1 Bxd1 0-1 My choices of piece play in this game are the important errors I need to work on. The positional mistakes of Bd7 and Nh4 (moves 11 and 12) are symptoms of a larger problem in my understanding. I was fortunate to escape and even win in this game.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

2017 3 Tables Chess - February Round 2 Robert Faust, 2003 - Anton Taylor, 1917 Caro-Kann Korchnoi Variation (B13)

3 Tables Chess - February Round 2 
Robert Faust, 2003 - Anton Taylor, 1917
Caro-Kann Korchnoi Variation (B13)

1. e4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ exf6 6. d4 Be6 7. Bd3 Bd6 8. O-O O-O 9. c3 Re8 10. Qc2 g6 
This position is a little past what is covered in the chessbase database. However, the previous moves contain many of the common ideas in this (exf6) line. White seems pleased to make very little headway against Black's setup and from this position the most likely outcome is usually a draw if neither side overreaches. If anyone can claim a slight advantage it is white because he has useful squares for all his pieces. Black on the other hand will have to perform some interesting maneuvers with his knight to get it to a square where it will even participate in the game. If not for this perhaps Black would be better with his more centralized forces. 11. Bd2 Bd5 12. Ne1 f5 13. c4 Be4 14. g3 Nd7 15. Rd1 Nf6 After this move I felt I had made a bit of an improvement in my position. As it turns out Rd1 becomes more useful in most variations than I had though and again the position is equal. 16. f3 Bxd3 17. Qxd3 Nxd3 was what I expected and is slightly better because it controls f4. 17. ... Nh5 18. Kg2? I don't understand the reasoning behind this move and the evaluation shifts to a black advantage after my reply ... but white is still not sunk. 18. ... f4 19. g4 Ng7 20. Nc2 Komodo recommends that black play either h4 or Qg5 here and while both moves seem strong I could not see a clear winning path. While it looks scary there seems to be no move that has no answer from white. The game is trying hard to deteriorate into a draw. 20. ... a5 21. Rde1 Qg5 22. Rxe8+ Rxe8 23. Re1 Rxe1 24. Bxe1 Ne6 White wants to play d5 but it leads to nothing. 25. h4 Qd8 26. Qe4 Be7 27. Kh3 Bf6 28. Bf2 Qb6 29. b3 a4 30. Qd3 axb3 31. axb3 Qa5 This starts a slightly dangerous series of queen maneuvers but it is the only way to play for a win here. 32. Be1 Qa2 33. g5 Bg7 34. Bf2 Qb1 35. Kg2 I thought here for a long time. There is no way to convert this to a win for black. He must satisfy himself with getting rid of the d-pawn and trading down into a drawn Queen and Pawn endgame.
35. ... Bxd4 36. Bxd4 Nxd4 37. Qxd4 Qxc2+ 1/2-1/2

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

2017 3 Tables Chess - February Round 1 Anton Taylor, 1917 - Randas Burns, 2014 Sicilian Hungarian Variation (B27)

2017 3 Tables Chess - February Round 1
Anton Taylor, 1917 - Randas Burns, 2014
Sicilian Hungarian Variation (B27) 

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. c3 Bg7 4. d4 cxd4 5. cxd4 d5 6. e5 Bg4 
Up until this position we have been playing one of the main lines in the Hungarian Variation.
7. Be2? This is the positionally losing move although it looks innocent enough. Nbd2 and the bishop check are better alternatives and don't lead to nearly as sad a position. 7. ... Bxf3 8. Bxf3 e6 9. Nc3 Ne7 10. Bg5 h6 11. Bxe7 Qxe7 12. O-O O-O 13. Rc1? Another positional blunder. There is no future trying to take the file Qd3 is recommended by komodo but the position already is in black's favor by small degrees. 13. ... Nc6 The longer you let komodo evaluate the worse things get for white. The mistake of Be2 becomes clearer and clearer. 14. Re1?? and now the position is completely lost. 14. ... Qb4 15. Ne2 Rac8
Komodo recommends Qxb2 instead but that's a hard move for a human to make and gives white some counterplay. 16. Rc2 Nxe5 17. Qd2 Nxf3+ 18. gxf3 Qxd2 19. Rxd2 Rc6 20. Rc1 Rfc8 21. Rxc6 Rxc6 22. Kf1 h5 23. f4 Kf8 24. f3 Ke7 25. Kf2 Kf6 26. Ke3 Bh6 27. h4 a6 28. Kd3 Kf5 29. Ke3 Kf6 30. Kd3 Bg7 31. Ke3 Ke7 32. Kf2 Kd6 33. Kg3 Rc4 34. Kf2 Bf6 35. Kg3 Bd8 36. b3 Ba5 37. Rb2 Be1+ 38. Kh3 Rc6 39. Rb1 Bd2 40. Rb2 Bc1 41. Nxc1 Rxc1 42. Rd2 Kc6 43. Kg3 Kb5 44. f5 gxf5 45. Kf4 Kb4 46. Kg5 Kc3 47. Rg2 Kxd4 48. Kxh5 Rc8 49. Rg7 Rh8+ 50. Kg5 f6+ 51. Kxf6 Rxh4 52. Kxe6 f4 53. Rxb7 Rh6+ 54. Kf5 Ke3 55. Kg5 Rd6 56. Kg4 d4 57. Re7+ Kf2 58. Kxf4 d3 59. Rh7 d2 60. Rh2+ 0-1 There is a lot of technical gold here and I give full credit to Randas for keeping level-headed and not simply assuming his victory. However, the real lesson is in how these small opening moves can lead to complete disaster. The seemingly innocent Be2 was the decisive blunder and the whole reason for all of white's difficulties.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

2017 Crooked Diagonals Round 5 Anton Taylor, 1910 - Mikhail Chetverukhin, 1868 Scandinavian Defense, Marshall Variation (B01)

2017 Crooked Diagonals Round 5
Anton Taylor, 1910 - Mikhail Chetverukhin, 1868
Scandinavian Defense, Marshall Variation (B01)

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. d4 Nxd5 4. Nf3 Bg4 5. Be2 e6 6. O-O Be7 7. h3 Bh5 8. Nbd2
Up until this move both players have been following the common theory in the marshall variation of the Scandinavian. I have never liked the lines with c4 as white so I play this more conservative line that is justified by the fact that the d5 knight has no future. Sure, black can get the two bishops by Nf4 but this trades a "strong" knight for a mediocre bishop and gives white a lead in development. White has a small advantage. The trick for him is finding a convenient way to develop the c1 bishop and then he has a comfortable game. 8. ... Nf4 9. c3 O-O 10. Bc4 white eyes playing d5 at some point in the near future to break things open and realize his advantage in development. 10. ... c5? This is a huge mistake that starts black's position into the abysmal. Above all I considered this a good sign for me as white. It means that black has not seen this position very much and it is only move ten. It is likely that he saw many victories with the scandinavian in blitz games but this isn't blitz and I used to play the same line with the black pieces for a couple of years in blitz. 11. Ne4 Bg6?? Qc7 was forced and while black is at a disadvantage he would hold together at least. 12. Nxc5 Bxc5 13. Bxf4 Be7 14. Ne5 Nd7 15. Qf3 Qc8 16. Bb3 Everything in this position is winning for white but Nxd7 is more accurate than this move. 16. ... a5 17. Nxg6 hxg6 18. Rad1 a4 19. Bc2 a3 20. b3 Nf6 21. c4 Nd5 Komodo recommends 22.dxc5 but that requires accurate play allowing the queen to penetrate and the passed pawn becomes a monster without care. I choose a much safer alternative that doesn't give black all that counterplay. 
22. Bd2 Nb4 23. Bxb4 Bxb4 24. Be4 Rb8 25. Qe3 Qc7 26. Rd3 Rbe8 27. Qf3 Re7 28. Qg3 Bd6 29. f4?? When I played this move I completely missed the reply. Fortunately my opponent did not realize that he could nab the pawn and not worry about the pawns dropping off. 29. ... f5! 30. Bf3 forced 30. ... Qd7?? Bxf4! and if Qxg6 the queen gets trapped by the rooks and bishop after Rf6. 31. c5? And as you can see the time trouble blunders have begun. I completely missed the obvious Bxc5 tactic until right after I hit the clock. I spent a lot of time looking at what would happen after that capture. 31. ... Bb8? *sigh of relief* 32. Rfd1 Kf7 33. d5 e5 34. d6 Re6 35. fxe5 Ba7 36. b4 Ke8 37. Bd5 f4 38. Bxe6 Qxe6 39. Qf3 Qxe5 40. Qxb7 1-0 The final position is a mate in nine more moves at the most but there is no need to calculate it. However, if you want to see it: 40. ... Rh8 41. d7+ Kd8 42. Qc8+ Ke7 43. d8=Q+ Rxd8 44. Qxd8+ Ke6 45. Qd7+ Kf6 46. Rd6+ Qxd6 47. Rxd6+ Kg5 48. Qg4+ Kh6 49. Qxg6#

Friday, February 17, 2017

2017 Crooked Diagonals Round 4 Anton Taylor, 1910 - CM Billy Woodward, 2015 Ruy Lopez, Schliemann Defense (C63)

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5!? Billy is known to play some interesting openings and I had never seen this move even in blitz. When you're playing from intuition on move three you may have a bad time. 4. Bxc6 Nc3 is by far the preferred move in the database and by Komodo. 4. ... dxc6 5. Nxe5?! This is too ambitious and is the characteristic of all my games in this event. Nc3 is again a recommended move. 5. ... Qe7?? Komodo gives this +-0.77 for White at a 20 move depth. That's amazing and I miss the winning idea. Most of the advantage stems from the stubborn knight which in this game does not realize its potential due to my sub-par play. 6. d4 Nf6 From here White is still given a pretty significant advantage and it becomes even more clear to me why. After O-O, an inevitable trade on e4, and f3 white will have all the play and black will be passive until death. I did not think of this sitting at the board. 7. Bg5? I still do not like this move and I was not satisfied during the game. Of course now the simple Nc3 immediately becomes apparent but given black's response this is fine. 7. ... fxe4 8. Nc3 White mostly wins in this position so it is likely that black must find some specific moves in response to simple white moves but the position is probably equal. 8. ... Bf5 9. Qe2 O-O-O 10. O-O-O h6 11. Be3 g5
This position is fairly lackluster for white. The best effort might be h4 but it is not sufficient. I realize how little I actually calculated here. I simply assumed by intuition that the e3 bishop was tied down to the defense of d4 and so my next move is inspired by the desire to both attack and resolve the defense of d4. However, the weakness of this is that the e5 square is going to be contested and I do not have time to support the knight there. It runs out of squares. 12. Na4? Qe6! 13. Kb1 forced 13. ... Nd5 14. g4 Bh7 15. b3?? This is the real blunder that loses the game. The b3-c4 plan is WAY too slow. h4 is recommended here but it will lead to nothing but distractions for black while white musters his forces for a draw. Black has the advanatge in that case but after this howler black is just clearly better. 15. ... Bd6? This is the result of both of us getting low on time (G/30 no delay) black misses the immediately winning b5!. 16. c4 Nf4 17. Bxf4 gxf4 18. Nd3 Qf6 19. Ndc5 The time scramble begins and we both blunder in and out but since black has already achieved a position where basically any move is clearly winning the result is expected. 0-1

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

2017 Crooked Diagonals Round 3 CM Jerry Baker 2135 - Anton Taylor, 1910 Nimzo-Larsen (A01)

2017 Crooked Diagonals Round 3 
Anton Taylor, 1910 - CM Jerry Baker 2135
Nimzo-Larsen (A01)

1. b3 Nf6 2. Bb2 e6 3. c4 b6 4. Nc3 Bb7 5. Nf3 Be7 6. e3 c5 7. Be2 d5 8. d4 O-O 9. O-O Ne4 10. dxc5 bxc5 11. cxd5 
Yet another position where an advanced knight turns out to have no real squares. It was a theme in this tournament. Here, for example the black knight has nothing better than to be traded for the c3 knight which is a good trade for white as the white knight has made less moves than the black one. White is slightly better. 11. ... exd5 12. Qc2 Nxc3 13. Bxc3 Nd7 14. Rfd1 Rc8 15. Bd3 g6 This was an interesting choice and seemed ironically the safest move in spite of the fact that it creates more holes those holes are less likely to be used to white's advantage. 16. Rac1 f5 17. Qe2 Qb6 18. Qb2 18.Bc4 is the more interesting alternative. It's not winning but presents more problems for black.  18. ... Bf6 19. Ne5 Nxe5 20. Bxe5 Bxe5 21. Qxe5 Rfe8 22. Qg3 Qc7 23. Qg5 Qe7 24. Qg3 Qe5 25. Rc2 Qxg3 26. hxg3 Rc7 27. Be2 Kf7 28. Rdc1 Rec8 29. g4 Ke6 30. Kh2 Kd6 31. gxf5 gxf5 32. Bf3 Ke5 33. g3 Ba6 34. Rd2 Rd8 35. Rcd1 d4 

Be2 is probably the best way to maintain the equality. White finds the worst move to make. It looks so natural too. 36. exd4+?? cxd4 37. Re1+ Kf6 38. Kg2 d3 39. Bd1 Re7? In time trouble I miss the winning idea. The position is drawish but the immediate f4 allows black to fix one weakness (reducing his number of pawn islands). 40. Rh1 Bb7+ 41. f3 Re3?? I played this move thematically in enormous time trouble. It only registered that I had blown a good position after I dropped the piece down on the board. After this black can't recover. 42. Rxh7 Ba6?? 43. Kf2 Rde8 44. Rh6+ 1-0

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

2017 Crooked Diagonals Round 2 Connor Zhang, 1554 - Anton Taylor, 1910 Caro-Kann Panov-Botvinnik Attack (B14)

2017 Crooked Diagonals Round 2
Connor Zhang, 1554 - Anton Taylor, 1910
Caro-Kann Panov-Botvinnik Attack (B14)

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Nf3 e6 7. Bf4 Bb4 8. a3 Bxc3+ 9. bxc3 Ne4?
Apparently this is an inaccuracy. As tempting as it is to drop the knight into this "hole" the most common move in 0-0 aiming to finish development first. But wait there's more over-ambitious play on my part to come. 10. Qc2 g5? This is a real howler of a move. Permanently weakening the pawn structure for a temporary attack with little future. 11. cxd5 exd5 12. Bg3 Bf5 13. Bd3 forced. 13. ... Bg6 14. O-O O-O 15. Rab1 b6 16. Rfe1 f5? In my hurry to justify and reinforce the knight on e4 I create a huge weakness on e5. The problem with Black's position is that he cannot muster counterplay aginst the c3 pawn and the future of the knight is just to be traded with the bishop or risk losing a handle on the game. But in that case the pawn weaknesses make this a losing endgame. There is a lot of play left but that's my assessment.
 17. h3? Rc8 Aiming at c3. 18. Qb3 Na5 19. Qb4 Nc4 20. Bxe4 fxe4? This turns out to be the wrong way to take back the piece. 21. Ne5 a5 22. Qb5 Be8? I was running very low on time. The obvious Nxa3 wins. 23. Qa6 Ra8 24. Qb7 Rb8 0-1 In the ensuing time scramble I commit further to the wrong plans and in a completely lost position where my opponent could force a draw he misses it and his time runs out. Not my most shining moment but a very interesting game that once more highlights my poor pawn structure play.

Monday, February 13, 2017

2017 Crooked Diagonals Round 1 Anton Taylor, 1910 - Harrison Broadhurst, 1729 Sicilian Rossolimo (B51)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nc6 4. Bxc6+ bxc6 5. d3 Bg4 6. h3 Bh5 7. Nbd2 e6 8. O-O Nf6 9. e5 
Only here does Komodo 10 begin to see that White is much better. In fact this is the ideal position for white. Black's inaccuracies e6? and Nf6? have led him down a positionaly losing path. I felt here that I was completely winning. 9. ... Nd7 10. exd6 Bxd6 11. Ne4 Bc7 12. Be3 White has caught up in dynamic advantages (development), maintained his tempo, and has a permanent pawn structure advanatge due to black's isolated and doubled pawns that will eventually fall off. Black is completely lost here. 12. ... Qe7 13. Ng3 This is the best move to free the f3 knight to fight for the control of central squares. 13. ... Bg6 14. Qd2 O-O 15. h4 f6 16. h5 Bf7 17. h6 g6 18. Ne4 Rfd8 18. ... e5 is a better bid for the center and prevents with correct timing the coming disaster but Black would still have his pawn weaknesses to nurse. 19. Qc3 Bb6 20. Bg5 e5 21. Nxf6+ Nxf6 22. Nxe5 
22. ... Rd6? I missed that 22. ... Qe6 23.Nxc6 Qxc6 24.Bxf6 Ba5 forces the trade of bishops or a perpetual and White's sacrifice is unsound and probably losing. Fortunately, so did my opponent.  23. Ng4 Bd8 24. Rae1 Qd7 25. Nxf6+ Bxf6 26. Bxf6 Qf5 27. Bh8 Rd4 28. Bxd4 cxd4 29. Qxd4 1-0 It amazes me how often a player in a bad looking position will not look for the opportunity to strike back (22. ... Qe6) 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Memory, the Brain, and My Chess Mastery Journey

I have been doing tactical training and going over a few opening lines in chessbase here and there recently. However, the topic that has been the most on my mind is neuroscience and how the brain works. I figure if I'm going to accomplish the goal of becoming a National Master in just one year I'm going to have to streamline the training process by "hacking" my brain for optimal function. What you'll read below is the results of that research and the ideas I've come up with for the future.

Years ago I developed this idea that chess masters are like machines constantly running. I now know for a certainty that this is not the case. While they calculate with mind-boggling speed and accuracy that is not the primary function of their brain in processing chess. In fact, according to a great study done by William Bart and Michael Atherton from the University of Minnesota called "THE NEUROSCIENTIFIC BASIS OF CHESS PLAYING:APPLICATIONS TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF TALENT AND EDUCATION" the amateur actually calculates far more. The reasons for this are obvious once you hear them. The amateur reinvents the wheel with each game. Thinking about each position without any frame of reference. The master through years of study has in essence "seen it all before" and uses his memory recall far more to remember how to handle a situation more often than calculating. With me so far?

I have noticed that the amateurs method has been my method so far. Every game from the first few moves that I have played since this adventure started has been brand new and interesting positions (with the exception of positions I have had against much lower rated opponents where thinking was not necessary, but the former is most often the case). There is no help for this, however, because until the memories are built I'm doing the mental heavy lifting so I don't have to do it later. It would be beneficial to do more opening study and memorization but we're getting to the crux of the issue.

The real difference between the brain of the master and the brain of the amateur is the ability to take in information and hold it. I'm not just talking about long term memory but that "something" in between, the memory between short-term (remembering something for thirty minutes) and truly long term (years, months, and days). I have noticed this in most amateurs and REALLY noticed it in myself. Most of the lowest rated players I have played are juniors under the age of sixteen or so. It never fails that within thirty minutes of the start of the round their attention wavers and when they return to the fire on board they have to recalculate everything. I do basically the same thing just on a much more subtle scale. After about a half hour to forty-five minutes I find myself leaving the calculation mode (which is fine and normal), holding the calculated line in my mind for later (the desired skill to foster), and then at some interval I want to eliminate losing my grip on the information and having to start over. This has led to several losses in tournaments as well as many more losses in online blitz (because of the distracted nature of my home environment from the start).

The ability that needs to be fostered in my brain (and yours if you want to really massively improve) is this holding of attention. You or I should be able to walk away from the board, get a drink, take a break, and then return to the board still holding in our mind's eye all that previous information.

A couple of areas I have been neglecting that have been potentially linked to brain health and skills are 1) sleep - I have not been sleeping well. Long hours of study and research are not conducive to sleep or at least not restful and rejuvenating sleep. The mind must be quieted. 2)Exercise - studies have shown that immediately after exercise the brain is more capable of retaining information. This leads me to the conclusion that if I want to get better at chess I need to hit the gym (or in my personal case the martial arts mats). You would be surprised how many chess Grandmasters know something about the martial arts or sports. 3)Meditation - meditation and the state of mind achieved in its practice has been linked to granting the same memory effects as good sleeping. A greater retention of information immediately surrounding its use. Now, taking out any eastern philosophy or mysticism let's just assume that meditation as an exercise gives you a greater internal understanding and awareness of your body. To me that has to translate to a control switch for holding information in my mind and memory.

So there you have it ... some things I'll be doing moving forward to help my memory and work toward this focused ability of memory that a master uses many times without conscious thought that he is using it. I'm not going to assume this idea is the correct one and I recommend you don't make that assumption either. However, for me it is a place to start and can give me measurable results in the form of rating points. If you make these alterations and my rating goes up then I'm right. If the rating doesn't go up or is marginally raised then perhaps it is not the whole truth. Time will tell.

Friday, February 3, 2017

2017 Land of the Sky XXX Round 5 Garret Allen, 1853 - Anton Taylor, 1916 Dutch Defense (B80)

2017 Land of the Sky XXX Round 5 
Garret Allen, 1853 - Anton Taylor, 1916 
Dutch Defense (B80)

1. d4 f5 2. Bg5 Nf6 3. Bxf6 exf6 4. c4 Bb4+ 5. Nc3 c5 I didn't remember the book line against Bg5 but I felt the position before this move was fine. I spent a good bit of time here debating all of the options. It seems that there is no consensus among masters in the position either. Truthfully it is quite bad for Black. the most common move is the lackluster O-O which leaves nothing resolved and surrenders to white to decide things. 6. e3 Nc6 
This move does not appear anywhere in the database but I like the energy of it. It is probably an over-ambitious treatment but the method to take advantage of the move seems difficult for white to choose. How should he respond? 7. Ne2 Qe7 At the time this seemed like an interesting way of continuing to play against the white center. Now I am not so sure. the main problem is Black's d-pawn. This may be an argument for playing d5 on turn 5. 8. a3 Bxc3+ 9. bxc3 d6 10. Nf4 O-O 11. g3 Bd7 12. Bg2 Na5 13. Bd5+ Kh8 14. Qh5 (14. h4! Be8 15. h5 h6 16. Qf3 Rb8 17. Ne6 and Black is completely lost) 14. ... Qe8 15. Qe2? This is the losing move. The best option was the trade of queens. 15. ... Rb8 16. O-O b6 17. Qc2?
White continues to miss the right plan and this move is completely pointless. I was very happ to see this and now I have my turn to find the right plan. 17. ... g5! 18. Ng2 Be6 19. h4 Bxd5 20. cxd5 Qe4 21. Qxe4 fxe4 22. hxg5 fxg5 23. dxc5 bxc5 24. Rfb1 Nc4 25. a4 Nd2 26. Rb5 a6 27. Rxb8 Rxb8 28. Ne1 Rb1 29. Rxb1 Nxb1 30. Nc2 Nxc3 31. Na3 Nxa4 32. Nc4 Nc3 33. Nxd6 Nxd5 34. Nxe4 c4 35. Kf1 a5 36. Ke2 a4 37. Kd2 a3 38. Kc1 c3 39. Kb1 h6? After this Black's decisive advantage is slowed down but he is still completely winning. The simple h5! ends things. 40. g4 Kg7 41. Nc5 Nb4 42. Nb3 a2+ 43. Ka1 c2 44. Nc1 Kf7 45. f4 h5 46. gxh5 g4! and white throws in the towel with the impending pawn promotion. 0-1

Thursday, February 2, 2017

2017 Land of the Sky XXX Round 4 Anton Taylor, 1916 - Ali Shirzad, 1695 Open Sicilian (B40)

2017 Land of the Sky XXX Round 4
Anton Taylor, 1916 - Ali Shirzad, 1695
Open Sicilian (B40)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 a6 is the more common move and probably more cautious (if not to say more accurate) 5. Bd3 Bc5? This move is not dubious but I don't like it on a principle level. Nc6 develops a knight first. I also see that Black will have to move the Bishop twice at least and White will trade his Bishop for it in one move potentially (Be3) 6. Nb3 Bb6 Be7 is more common in the position and probably is better BUT It is better to play Be7 before Bc5 because the knight is exposed on d4 but now is safe on b3. 7. Nc3 a6?
I completely missed that 8.e5! clearly wins in this position. I'm in robotic development mode. 8. Qf3 d6 9. Be3 Nbd7? Placing the knight here locks in the Bishop to the back rank and the threat of Ne5 is not that critical. 10. Be2 Preserving the Bishop pair (at least for the moment). In spite of the equal evaluation this move is given I much prefer White here. 10. ... Ne5 11. Qg3 Ng6? 11. ... Bxe3 12. Qxe3 Neg4 seems to be the most accurate line for Black. 12. f4 h4 is the better way to go about a kingside attack but I felt like it was more commital than this move (because here I preserve the idea h3-g4. 12. ... Bxe3 13. Qxe3 O-O 14. g4 e5 15. f5 Nf4 16. O-O-O b5 17. Bf3 This move turns out to give Black's counterplay a little more bite. The immediate g5 turns out to be the winning idea. I felt like Ne2 trading off the knight was necessary before the pawn storm to give open lines for the rooks.17. ... Bb7 18. Ne2 When I envisioned this position in my mind four moves earlier I did not see that the pressure black could have along the c-file keeps the balance. 18. ... Nxe2+ 19. Qxe2 Qb6 20. g5 Nd7 21. f6 g6 22. Bg4 Rfd8 23. Bxd7 Rxd7 24. Qg4 Qd8 25. Rd2 a5 26. Nc5 Rc7 27. Nxb7 Rxb7 28. Rhd1 Rb6 29. Qh4 Raa6 30. Rd5 b4 31. Rxe5 b3 32. Qh6 Qf8 33. Re8! 1-0

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

2017 Land of the Sky XXX Round 3 Dhruv Rajaganesh, 1599 - Anton Taylor, 1916 Caro-Kann: Exchange (B13)

2017 Land of the Sky XXX Round 3
Dhruv Rajaganesh, 1599 - Anton Taylor, 1916
Caro-Kann: Exchange (B13)

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. Bd3 Nc6 5. c3 Nf6 6. Bf4 Bg4 I was unaware that this move was actually part of the mainline in the exchange (a large sample). It seemed logical to me as well as aggressive and developing. I expected the response Qb3 (which turns out again to be the mainline).7. f3? 
This move turns out to be the start of a bad trend. White's best piece is the Bishop on d3 so placing pawns on the light squares is definitely the wrong way to play. 7. ... Bd7 8.h3?? This move makes the white position critical. Black is nearly winning after this move. 8. ... e6? a possible and thematic sacrifice is 8... e5 9. dxe5 Nh5 10. Bh2 Qh4+ 11. Kf1 Ng3+ 12. Bxg3 Qxg3 13. Ne2 Qxe5 

That's not the best play for white but illustrates clearly the advantage of playing e5! ... e6 throws away an advantage. 9. Ne2 Nh5 10. Be3 Bd6 11. O-O O-O 12. Qc2 f5 13. f4? Nf6 After white seals off the bishop and creates an advanced outpost Black hurries to put a piece there. 14. Nd2 Rc8 15. a3 Ne4 16. Nf3 Qe8? A mistake that I regret immediately. It is an interesting idea but ultimately is just a wasted move because of the reply. 17. Ne5 Na5 18. Rf3 Ba4 19. Qb1 Nb3 20. Bxe4 dxe4 21. Rg3 Nxa1 22. Qxa1 Bb5 23. Qe1 Qh5 24. Kf2 Bxe5 25. dxe5 Bxe2 26. Qxe2 Qh4 27. Qe1 Rfd8 28. Kf1 Qh5 29. Bd4 Qe8 30. Qe2 Qa4 31. Qh5 Rxd4 32. cxd4 Rc1+ 33. Ke2 Qc2+ 34. Ke3 Qd3+ 35. Kf2 Rf1++ 0-1

This game was a much needed victory after two straight losses. This game stopped the bleeding long enough for me to mentally recover for the remaining two rounds on the following day. I'm not ashamed to say that I at chocolate the night after this game. I ate my sorrows.